A. SOME CHARACTERISTICS OF THE VEDIC ASTROLOGICAL NAKSHATRA SYSTEM
In this part I will look at the Nakshatras from the point of view of:
The relationship to the navamsa, which is the chart of the soulThe gunas, which represents qualities of energy.The four purposes of life.Some other characteristics of the Nakshatras
1. THE SIGNS OF THE PADAS AND THE RELATIONSHIP TO THE NAVAMSA
There are 27 Nakshatras. Every Nakshatra measures 13.20' (13 degrees and 20 minutes).
Each Nakshatra is divided into 4 parts of 3.20’ (3 degrees and 20 minutes). These parts are called padas.
Each pada has the characteristics of a sign of the zodiac, starting with Aries.
Therefore, the pada system can be seen as a system which integrates the Nakshatras with the commonly used zodiac.
In each Nakshatra there are 4 padas. Therefore, in 3 Nakshatras we have 12 padas. Because each pada represents a sign of the zodiac in a group of 3 Nakshatras we find the entire zodiac in the form of padasigns.
Now each sign of the zodiac covers 2 ¼ Nakshatras. That is 4 + 4 + 1 = 9 padas.
The navamsa is the 1/9 division of the zodiac. Therefore, there is connection between the padas and the navamsa. The connection is simple. If a planet is in the pada of Aries then it is in the navamsa in Aries. If it is in the pada of Taurus it is in the navamsa in Taurus and so on.
Therefore, the navamsasigns and the signs of the padas are the same.
The navamsa is the chart of the soul. It gives information about the state of the soul and thus of the inner life of the person.
Therefore, it can be said that the signs of the padas give information about the soul of a person.
If the rashi contains information about in which padas planets are located, there is no need for a separate printout of the navamsa. Navamsasigns and padasigns are the same.
You will find an overview of this system in the next table:
TABLE: PADAS OF THE FIRST NAKSHATRAS
pada of Aries
pada of Taurus
pada of Gemini
pada of Cancer
pada of Leo
pada of Virgo
pada of Libra
pada of Scorpio
26.40 Aries-0 Taurus
pada of Sagittarius
pada of Capricorn
3.20 -6.40 Taurus
pada of Aquarius
pada of Pisces
pada of Aries
pada of Taurus
pada of Gemini
pada of Cancer
23.20 Taurus -6.40 Gemini
pada of Leo
26.40 Taurus- 0 Gemini
pada of Virgo
pada of Libra
pada of Scorpio
2. THE THREE GUNAS
There are three gunas or types of energy.
First, there is Rajas. Rajas is the energyspark of the soul which is incarnating in the world. Rajas gives activity.Then there is Tamas. The soul, which comes into this world, immerses itself into materiality. Tamas is about materiality and the material world. After the soul has encountered materiality, it is time for the soul to liberate itself. The energy of liberation is called Sattva. Sattva is about going beyond the material world. It is about the soul wanting to return to its heavenly home.
Each Nakshatra represents certain gunas. And it does so not only on one level, but on three levels.
First, we have a group of 9 Nakshatras that represent Rajas energy on a primary level. These Nakshatras coincidence with the signs Aries, Taurus, Gemini and Cancer. Aries is the first firesign, Taurus the first earthsign, Gemini the first airsign and Cancer the first watersign. Then there comes a groups of 9 Nakshatras which represent Tamas on a primary level. These Nakshatras coincidence with the signs Leo, Virgo, Libra and Scorpio. Leo is the second firesign, Virgo the second earthsign, Libra the second airsign and Scorpio the second watersign.Finally, we have a group of 9 Nakshatras which represent Sattva on a primary level. These Nakshatras coincidence with the signs Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces. Sagittarius is the third firesign, Capricorn the third earthsign, Aquarius the third airsign and Pisces the third watersign. .
Now each group of 9 Nakshatras can be divided into 3 groups of 3 Nakshatras. This represents the gunas on a secondary level.
In each groups of 9 Nakshatras the first three Nakshatras represent Rajas on a secondary level, the second three Nakshatras represent Tamas on a secondary level and the third three Nakshatras represent Sattva on a secondary level. We see that the order of Rajas, Tamas and Sattva, which we saw at the primary level, repeats itself on this level.
There are 3 groups of 9 Nakshatras. Because each group of 9 Nakshatras has been split into 3 groups of 3 Nakshatras we have a total of 9 groups which consist of 3 Nakshatras.
These groups of 3 Nakshatras represent the tertiary level. The first Nakshatra of such a group represents Rajas, the second Nakshatra Tamas and the third Sattva.
THE GUNAS AT THREE LEVELS
What we have here is a rather complicated system in which each Nakshatra represents certain gunas on different levels.
Let us look at the first Nakshatra of Ashwini. On a primary level Ashwini represents Rajas,because the Nakshatra of Ashwini is in the range of the signs Aries to Cancer.
On a secondary level, Ashwini represents again Rajas, because it is part of the first group of 3 Nakshatras within the range of Aries to Cancer.
And also, on a tertiary level Ashwini represents Rajas, because it is the first Nakshatra of the first group of 3 Nakshatras.
Therefore we say that Ashwini is Rajas – Rajas – Rajas.
The next Nakshatra Bharani is Rajas – Rajas – Tamas
Only the tertiary level has changed.
Next comes Krittika which is Rajas – Rajas – Sattva.
Again only a change at the tertiary level.
Then we come to a new group of three Nakshatras, which causes for a change at the secondary level. This group does not have Rajas at the secondary level but Tamas.
Of course at the tertiary level, we start again with Rajas.
So Rohini is Rajas – Tamas – Rajas
And Mrigashirsha is Rajas – Tamas – Tamas
And Ardra is Rajas – Tamas – Sattva.
Now we come to the third group of Rajas Nakshatras at the primary level. These have Sattva on the secondary level:
Punarvasu is Rajas – Sattva – Rajas
Pushya is Rajas – Sattva – Tamas
and Ashlesha is Rajas – Sattva – Sattva.
Ashlesha, which is located at the end of the sign Cancer, is the last of the Rajas Nakshatras at the primary level.
The next Nakshatra has Tamas at the primary level. It is the Nakshatra of Magha which is placed at the beginning of Leo.
Magha is Tamas –Rajas –Rajas
Purva Phalguni, which is next, is Tamas –Rajas –Tamas
Hopefully, the reader now has a certain feeling for the system and can easily finish this on his own. A list of all Nakshatras follows in the table below. The gunas are mentioned in this scheme. The primary guna is mentioned first, then the secondary and then the tertiary. R is Rajas, T is Tamas and S is Sattva
If you would like to know which gunas are emphasised in a chart you could look in which Nakshatras the ascendant and the planets are located, look at the gunas of these Nakshatras and give one point for each time you see a certain guna mentioned.
For example, the first example chart in the section about interpretation is the chart of Bill Clinton He has his ascendant in Hasta, which is Tamas-Tamas-Rajas. This gives 2 points for Tamas and 1 point for Rajas. If we add to this the gunas of the planets we get the following score: Rajas 10 points, Tamas 15 points and Sattva 5 points. Therefore Tamas is the most important guna in the character of Mr. Clinton, then comes Rajas and last comes Sattva.
We can compare this to the chart of Al Gore (not printed here, but birth data are March 31, 1948, 12.53, Time Zone 5 West, 38.54 North, 77.02 West). We get Rajas 13 points, Tamas 3 points and Sattva 14 points. Therefore, Al Gore has a Sattva/Rajas character with almost no Tamas.
Of course, this system is helpful, but to really evaluate a chart we should always look at the chart as a whole and not just at the gunas the planets and the ascendant are in.
DIAGRAM: AN OUTLINE OF THE 27 MOON CONSTELLATIONS USED IN VEDIC ASTROLOGY/JYOTISH (NAKSHATRAS)
26.40 Aries-10 Taurus
23.20 Taurus-6.40 Gemini
20 Gemini-3.20 Cancer
11. Purva Phalguni
13.20 Leo-26.40 Leo
12. Uttara Phalguni
26.40 Leo-10 Virgo
10 Virgo-23.20 Virgo
23.20 Virgo-6.40 Libra
20 Libra-3.20 Scorpio
3.20 -16.40 Scorpio
13.20- 26.40 Sagittarius
26.40 Sag.-10 Capricorn
23.20 Cap.-6.40 Aquarius
25. Purva Bhadrapada
20 Aquarius-3.20 Pisces
26. Uttara Bhadrapada
Each Nakshatra has a certain planet as its lord. Indeed, it is the lord of the Nakshatra in which the Moon at birth is placed which decides which is the first dasa of the life of the person. Therefore, these Nakshatralords are important.
It is interesting to see if we can find some connection between the lordships and the gunas.
And indeed the connection is there. It turns out that Ketu, the Moon and Jupiter are the lords of Nakshatras, which have Rajas at a tertiairy level.Venus, Mars and Saturn are the lords of the Nakshatras, which have Tamas at a tertiary level. Finally, the Sun, Rahu and Mercury are the lords of the Nakshatras, which have Sattva at a tertiary level.
Before we draw conclusions from this let us look at the secondary level.
Ketu, Venus and the Sun are the lords of Nakshatras which have Rajas at the secondary level (this is the first group of nine Nakshatras).
The Moon, Mars and Rahu are the lords of Nakshatras which have Tamas at the secondary level (this is the second group of nine Nakshatras).
Finally, Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury are the lords of Nakshatras, which have Sattva at the secondary level (the third group of nine Nakshatras) .
This is interesting because it gives us information about the gunas of the planets. If we mention the secondary level first and the tertiary level, second we can make the following summary.
Ketu is Rajas- Rajas
Venus is Rajas-Tamas
Sun is Rajas-Sattva
Moon is Tamas-Rajas
Mars is Tamas-Tamas
Rahu is Tamas-Sattva
Jupiter is Sattva-Rajas
Saturn is Sattva-Tamas
Mercury is Sattva-Sattva
Now we can draw some interesting conclusions about the character of the planets.
I will give some examples of this.
Venus is a planet that has to do with love and lust. To get what we want we move into action (Rajas). The result of this action is that we are going deeper into material life (Tamas).
The Sun is a fiery planet (Rajas), however it represents the soul in the chart and has therefore Sattva characteristics.
Jupiter too is a fiery planet (Rajas), but again has Sattva characteristics because is the planet of the Guru and inner wisdom.
Saturn is a spiritual planet, because it is the planet of Sannyas (renouncing the world). Nevertheless, as we all know Saturn represents matter and therefore also Tamas.
Rahu has the same energies as Saturn only in a different order. It brings us deep into material life (Tamas). However, it only is doing this so we are able to outlive everything that this earth has to offer and then liberate ourselves (Sattva).
It may come as a surprise to some people that Mercury turns out to be the most spiritual planet.However, one thing that distinguishes us from animals, is our capacity to think and evaluate ourselves. Mercury as an airy planet can liberate us from this earth. It is not a planet of materiality (Tamas) and neither does it like hard work and action (Rajas). It thinks about Tamas and Rajas instead of going into it.
It is not my intention to give all the answers, but merely to give the reader a system and to represent a way of thinking, which the reader can easily apply himself. After these examples, it will probably not be too hard to meditate about the character of Ketu, Mars and the Moon.
In this paragraph I have mentioned the connection of the gunas to the Nakshatras. Out of this have emerged conclusions about the connection of the gunas to the planets. I am well aware that there are other systems, which give information about the gunas and the planets. However, this system has a thorough theoretical foundation, which cannot be said of every system. The basis of most systems is mainly what the author of a certain book ‘feels’ must be the connection of the gunas to the planets.
3. THE NAKSHATRAS AND THE FOUR AIMS OF LIFE
good and bad nakshatra
Life has four aims:
Dharma: doing what you are supposed to do. Fulfilling your soul in daily activitiesArtha: generating income and wealth so you can provide shelter and food for your body.Kama: going after your desires. Moksha: liberating your soul.
Every Nakshatra represents an energy in which one aim is stressed. Therefore, by looking at which planets are in which Nakshatras we can find out which aims of life are stressed in the life of a person.
At first sight there seems to be a connection between these aims and the elements. It is easy to see a connection between fire and Dharma, earth and Artha, air and Kama and moskha and water. However there is another division of Nakshatras in tattvas (elements). This is a different division then the division in aims of life.
The way the Nakshatras are divided among the aims of life is interesting. At first, the order of the aims is the same as the order of the signs which represents the connected elements in the zodiac.
We all know that the first sign in the zodiac is Aries (fire), then Taurus (earth), Gemini (air) and Cancer (water).
Now the first Nakshatra Ashwini is a Dharma Nakshatra, the second Nakshatra Bharani is a Artha Nakshatra, the third Krittika is a Kama Nakshatra and the fourth Rohini is a Moksha Nakshatra.
Then however something different happens. The fifth Nakshatra Mrigashirsha is also a Moksha Nakshatra and from then, the order is going backwards. So the sixth Nakshatra Ardra is a Kama Nakshatra, the seventh Punarvasu is an Artha Nakshatra and the eighth Pushya a Dharma Nakshatra.
Now we have returned at the ‘first aim’ Dharma again. The ninth Nakshatra Ashlesha is still a Dharma Nakshatra. From then, we go onwards: the tenth Nakshatra Magha is Artha, the eleventh Purva Phalguni is Kama, the twelfth Uttara Phalguni is Moksha.
From then, the same thing happens as with Rohini. Again the next Nakshatra Hasta is a Moksha Nakshatra and from then, we go backwards: Chitra is Kama, Swati is Artha and Vishakha is Dharma.
As can be expected there follows another Dharma Nakshatra which is Anuradha, then we have an Artha Nakshatra Jyeshta, a Kama Nakshatra Mula and a Moksha Nakshatra Purvashadha.
At this point, something happens which may surprise us. At first what happens is very much what we would have expected. There comes another Moksha Nakshatra, which is Utturashadha, but then we seem to skip the Kama Nakshatra and go right to an Artha Nakshatra which is Shravana and then we come to a Dharma Nakshatra which is Dhanista.
Of course, it is interesting to know why we skip the Kama Nakshatra. The answer seems to be that in the past there used to be a system of 28 Nakshatras. The 28th Nakshatra is Abhijit. This Nakshatra is located between Purvashadha and Shravana. It is the only Nakshatra of which the main star Vega is located far away from the ecliptic. That is also why it is hard to locate it on the ecliptic and probably one reason why it is skipped.
However, some fifteen thousand years ago Vega used to be the polestar. In the past, this Nakshatra could be very important. The fact that the deity which belongs to this Nakshatra is Brahma, the creator, seems to underline this. Today, this Nakshatra is sometimes used for religious purposes,but is not a standard part of the system.
However, let us go back to the order of Nakshatras. We have arrived at Dhanistha, which is a Dharma Nakshatra. Now we will find as expected another Dharma Nakshatra, which is Shatabhishak. Then comes an Artha Nakshatra Purva Bhadrapada, a Kama Nakshatra Uttara Bhadrapada and we end with a Moksha Nakshatra Revati.
It is interesting that we start the sequence of Nakshatras with the Nakshatra Ashwini which is a Dharma Nakshatra (that has to do with finding our purpose in life) and end with a Moksha Nakshatra which is about spiritual liberation.
In the diagram of the Nakshatras, which you can see above (in the paragraph about the gunas), you will also find a column which gives information of which purpose of life belongs to which Nakshatra. D = Dharma, A = Artha, K=Kama and M = Moksha.
There is something, which strikes me if I look at the table of the Nakshatras. The first Nakshatra Ashwini is Rajas-Rajas-Rajas and is a Dharma Nakshatra.
The Nakshatra Chitra is Tamas-Tamas-Tamas and is a Kama Nakshatra. The last Nakshatra Revati is Sattva-Sattva-Sattva and is a Moksha Nakshatra.
Therefore, there seems to be a connection between Rajas and Dharma, Tamas and Kama and Sattva and Moksha. This connection is logical if you look at the characteristics of the gunas and the purposes of life.
4. OTHER CHARACTERISTICS OF NAKSHATRAS
The symbolism of the Nakshatras is rich indeed. In addition to a planet, deity, symbol, aim of life and guna each Nakshatra also corresponds with a certain animal, animal type, caste, sex, temperament, dosha, tattva (element) and even winddirection.
Deities, planets and symbols are mentioned in my booklet the Hindu lunar zodiac, aims of life and gunas in the above paragraphs. I will now give a quick overview of the sexes, temperaments and animals. When interpreting Nakshatras I sometimes make use of these.
There is no real orderly system like with aims of life and gunas when dividing the Nakshatras among the sexes, temperaments and animals.
Male nakshatras are: Ashwini, Bharani, Pushya, Ashlesha, Magha, Uttara Phalguni, Swati, Jyeshta, Mula, Purvashadha, Uttarashadha, Shravana and Purva Bhadrapada.
Female Nakshatras are: Krittika, Rohini, Mrigashirsha, Ardra, Punarvasu, Purva Phalguni, Hasta, Chitra, Vishakha, Anuradha, Dhanistha, Shatabhishak, Uttara Bhadrapada and Revati.
Male Nakshatras are more active than female Nakshatras. It is notable that sometimes male Nakshatras are governed by female deities and the other way around.
Deva (godly) nakshatras are Ashwini, Mrigashirsha, Punarvasu, Pushya, Hasta, Swati, Anuradha, Revati.
Human nakshatras are Bharani, Rohini, Ardra, Shravana and all the Purva and Uttara Nakshatras.
Rakshasa (demon) nakshatras are Krittika, Ashlesha, Magha, Chitra, Vishakha, Jyestha, Mula, Dhanistha, Shatabhishak.
People who have many planets in demon Nakshatras maybe more harsh then those who have planets in the deva Nakshatras which are mostly soft.
However we have to keep in mind that devas are not necessarily good and demons are not necessarily bad. In fact they both have their role in creation to play and are equally important.
If there were no demons, it would be impossible to deal with our karmic problems. In that case, we would probably be playing harp all-day and enjoying the sunshine. Not much spiritual growth would result out of that.
There is a connection between certain animal species and the Nakshatras. This is something that can be interesting to know about. You can look in which Nakshatra you have your ascendant, Moon or Sun and look at the corresponding animals. You may choose one (or more) of these as your ‘totem animal’.
You can meditate on this animal. When you see it, you can look at its characteristics. You can read books about the way it lives. When you see a program about this animal do not miss it because by watching the program you will learn more about yourself. Personally, I think it is funny and revealing to learn about yourself just by watching a certain animal.
Here comes the list. First I mention an animal and after that the Nakshatras which according to Indian tradition correspond with this animal.
As with most connections at first the reason why a certain animal belongs to a certain Nakshatra may not be clear. However, the reason is always there. Rather than writing a long essay about what might be the reasons I would ask you to think about this yourself. There are several books in which you will find descriptions of the Nakshatras like my booklet the Hindu lunar zodiac.
With these descriptions at your proposal, it may not be too difficult to find out the rational for these connections. If you feel it is difficult, just meditate on it. If things get tough, you can see it as a Zen koan.
Ashwini (the horsewoman), Shatabhishak
Bharani (the bearer), Revati
Magha, Purva Phalguni
Utter Phalguni, Uttara Bhadrapada
Dhanistha, Purva Bhadrapada
The nakshatras in vedic chart interpretations
In what follows I will look at what the Nakshatras have to say about charts of well known people. I believe that the ancient system of the Nakshatras contain a system of chart interpretation that can stand on its own.
You will note that some charts are from people who are more or less in the same ‘line of business’. It is interesting to see what the similarities and differences between these charts are.
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